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In 2003, America invaded Iraq. The war cost trillions of dollars, thousands of American lives, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives, and destabilized the both the US and the Middle East. And for what? Iraq had no WMDs. Even if they had, they posed no threat to us. Why did we do it? What do we need to learn from it? That’s the question Robert Draper has spent years trying to answer. In 2007, Draper wrote Dead Certain, a study of the Bush administration with access to the President himself. But there was a hole at the center of that book, and Draper knew it: He still didn't quite understand what had led Bush to invade Iraq. And so he set out to fill the hole. Draper’s To Start a War: How the Bush Administration Took America into Iraq is based on interviews with more than 300 people involved in the run-up to the Iraq War, and the stories they tell offer the clearest, most damning, most useful account of that decision to date. There’s a reason I wanted to have this conversation right now. The Iraq War isn’t just past. It’s present. It’s part of how George W. Bush’s Republican Party fell to Donald Trump. It’s a study in the ways a president led by conviction and dismissive of expertise can warp the federal government (sound familiar?). It’s a reminder that belief can be as dangerous as cynicism. It's a lesson in the way that, when information is uncertain, assumptions rule all. And for all the differences between Bush and Trump personally, closely studying the Iraq War reveals a key continuity between them, and a reason Republican administrations keep leading to catastrophe. References: Ezra's piece on why Republican administrations keep leading to catastrophe Book recommendations: The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner The False Cause by Adam H. Domby Young Heroes of the Soviet Union by Alex Halberstadt Please consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: bit.ly/givepodcasts Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas. New to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide (http://bit.ly/EKSbeginhere) Credits: Producer/Editor/Audio Wizard - Jeff Geld Searcher and Researcher - Roge Karma Want to contact the show? Reach out at [email protected] Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices